Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Who is Hannah Meade?

If I could go back in time, one place I would go is Barriefield, near Kingston, Ontario in the year 1870.

My 2x great-grandparents John and Elizabeth Seale had 7 sons, 1 daughter... 
and a mystery lodger.

I would ask John Seale how it came about that he came to Canada with his first wife Sarah, and when she died what became of his son Theophilus and daughter Eliza that were born in Ireland? I would also love to see some of his carpentry work, a passion that he handed down through the generations to my father and my daughter.

But the more burning question I have is.... Who is Hannah Meade?

Hannah first turns up living with my Seale family on the 1871 Canada census of Ontario. There is John and Elizabeth, their daughter Anne, 3 of their sons, Mary Hunter (sister of Elizabeth) and Meade, Hannah age 9 (so born about 1862).  

According to the Seale's 1881 census Hannah is now 19 years old. No occupation.

In 1883 one of the Seale boys, William, married Louisa Alexander.  The marriage record lists the witnesses as A.H Seale (his brother Alexander) and Hannah M. Seale... ?

According to the 1891 census she is now listed as Hannah Seale, daughter age 25 (29).

Then Hannah drops from the face of the earth.  I found no marriage record, death record, or other censuses. From the previous censuses I learned that Hannah was born in Ontario (no birth record found), her father was English and her mother Irish. So I embark on a quest to find the answer.... who is Hannah Mead?

I decide the first step is to look at the 1861 Census to see if perhaps there was a Mead family in the area. There are some Mead families, one lives in Prescott, ON, over 100K away and others are more than 300K distant. But looking promising is one Mead family in the census living at Fort Frederick (& Hospital), just 2 miles down the road from the Seale property in Barriefield:
     M. Mead b1818, wife Jane b1829, children Charles b1856, Eliza b1857, and Mary b1860.

So next, looking up these children I find Charles - he married in 1884 and died in 1887. They had a daughter Jennie born 1887, the year her father died. The marriage record states his father is Matthew Mead and his mother is Jane Macauley. This fits with the 1861 census I found.
I find no records for Eliza or Mary.

Turning to the parents I find a Matthew Mead on the 1871 area census, a widow boarding at the place of James Gough, tavern keeper. He is also on the 1881 census living with his son Charles, a seaman. No more records for Jane. So Jane died between 1862 and 1871.

With some googling around I found a transcription of an 1854 Toronto marriage record for Matthew Mead, Pvt of the Royal Canadian Rifle and Jane Macauley.  I also found the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid which lists a few Meads at Cataraqui in Kingston, including Matthew, Charles, Jane and Mary (wife of Rev Godfrey Shore)... aha!! Mary got married!
And Hannah Mead.

My next step is to contact the Cataraqui cemetery to see if they have dates of death. They are very helpful there, as are the people at most places I contact for information.
So I wait to hear from them.

Sure enough, my contact tells me that Jane Macauley Mead died in January 1865, when Hannah was just 2 or 3 years old.  At that time the Seale children were 15 - 26 and Elizabeth would have been delighted to take in a baby girl, after raising 6 boys and only 1 girl who was now 24.
The cemetery admin is still looking for Hannah Mead.

So I am convinced that this is Hannah Mead's biological family. It is not a stretch that John Seale, a military man, would have known Matthew Mead and his family, and they probably attended the same church .

There is no Eliza Mead at the cemetery with the other Meads which leads me to believe she has married. It will be difficult (although my contact at the cemetery says not impossible!) to find her.

Mary Mead Shore and her husband lived on the same street as John Seale Jr for a time.  Mary died in 1914, and her husband the good Reverend died in 1901. I have found no evidence of children and Mary never remarried.

I just got another email with a bonus from the wonderful administrator at the Cemetery - Hannah Mead is buried with her husband, George VanHorn and his family! (George's father Alex lived next door to and married Nancy McAdoo and Nancy's niece married into the Seale family).

Hannah and George were married in 1901, lived on George's family farm in Barriefield close to the Seale family, and had 4 children. But Hannah, like her mother, did not live to see her children marry or give her grandchildren, as she died young in 1907. She is surrounded by her family in death - her husband George, her stillborn baby girl and her son George Rodney.

I can now close the book on the mysterious Hannah Mead.

I hope Hannah has family that remembers her and passes on stories about her, so she is never lost or forgotten.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Where's the Fire?

Fire can give us life or give us death. Some people are fascinated by fire. As a Girl Guide I made many fires in the woods with friends.  Now I love fire as long as it is in a fireplace or fire pit.

The first "house" fire I remember was when I was quite young and a garage went up in flames one night, just 2 doors down from our house. All of us who lived on the street, and from a few streets down, were standing there, not too close as it was very hot and sparks were flying, mesmerized by the flames that no one could do anything about.  Our town had no fire department, and it was too late anyways. The owners built their garage first and they stored materials in that garage to start to build their house.

The second was the 1972 tragic case of arson at the Blue Bird Café in Montreal, leaving 37 people dead. The younger sister of my friend was one of the victims, there with some friends to see another friend off on a trip.

The third fire that touched our lives, was that of the empty old hotel right across the street from my house. I lived in the house built c1815 by Col John Scriver, the son of an Empire Loyalist.  John's son Julius had built his house across the street, and it later became the Frontier Inn. The Inn had been closed up for a long time, and the night it went up in flames the whole town came out to watch and mourn the loss of a beautiful historic building.  All the volunteer fire department could do, good as they were, was to keep the fire from spreading to near by homes.

Historically many a city has been destroyed by fire. A couple of the more famous being the Great Fire of London in 1666, the San Francisco fire caused by the earthquake of 1906, and the Great Fire of 1852 in Montreal.

Fire fighting has come a long way since those days, and the men and women who become fire fighters are a special breed. Many small towns have volunteer fire departments, which is not to say they are untrained.  Ours was one of the best in the country! Our village firemen came around and checked everyone's fireplace and chimney on request in the fall. I must say the Chief was quite impressed with our old Rumford fireplaces.

Was your ancestor one of these brave people that risked their lives for others?

I have gathered some links to fire departments and the men that served there. You can find more by searching using keywords "[city] fire department (+history)" and "firefighter roll of honour". Also do the search at HahtiTrust, they may have others and some photos may be clearer.

Relevant Links:

List of historic Disastrous Fires

Montreal's Blue Bird Café Fire 1972

Montreal's Blue Bird Café Victims

Fire fighters of Houston - 1838-1915

Reminiscences of the old fire laddies and volunteer fire departments of Brooklyn 1885

History of the Toronto Fire Department 1924

Our Firemen: faithful to duty, true to friendship NY 1891

Descriptive and illustrated price list of firemen uniforms - US 1893

The 30th anniversary and annual fire book of the veterans Fireman's Association of San Francisco, Inc - 1929

The Exempt firemen of San Francisco; their unique and gallant record 1900

1st to 21st Annual Report of the Commissioner of the Firemen's Relief Fund -MA 1911

Our Firemen: History of the New York fire departments, volunteer and paid; 1887

Our Firemen; the official history of the Brooklyn Fire Department 1892

Souvenir book of Indiana State Firemen's Association convention held at Fort Wayne 1920

Our Firemen: history of the Pittsburgh fire department, 1889

Our Firemen: a record of the faithful and heroic men who guard the property and lives of the city of Detroit - 1894

Souvenir program; Firemen's Relief Assoc - Manila, Jan 1909

History of the Calgary Fire Department 1910

Souvenir of the Vancouver Fire Department 1905

Souvenir of the Ottawa Fire Department 1905

Souvenir of the Saskatoon Fire Department 1905

History of the Fire and Police Departments of Paterson NJ 1893

South Australian CFS Fire Fighter Roll of Honour

South Australian MFS Fire Fighter Roll of Honour

Queensland Fire and Rescue Honour Roll

Toronto Fire Fighter Honour Roll

Victoria Australia CFA Honour Roll

Souvenir of the Silver Jubilee -  Avenel Fire Company NJ 1913

The Hibernia fire engine company, no. 1, NY 1859

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

In honour of Chinese New Year, February 19, 2015, I have gathered some links to publications and websites that have to do with Chinese Immigration. If you have ancestors from China this may help get you started.

Relevant Links

The surnames of the Chinese in America spelled according to the David Jones system of spelling Chinese names; with notes on various subjects of interest to the Chinese and those who do business with them – 1904

Case Files for Early Immigrants to San Francisco and Hawaii

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Alberta Genealogical Conference

A reader has asked me to let people know about their society's conference coming up in April of this year. If other genealogy societies are holding a conference and would like to get the word out, I will put a list somewhere on my blog.

This is the info for the Alberta Genealogical Society Conference to be held at:

Chateau Louis Conference Centre
11727 Kingsway NW
Edmonton, AB T5G 3A1


Monday, 9 February 2015


My husband has teachers in his ancestry, Angélique and Marguerite Nolin who started the first school in the Red River Settlement for native and metis girls.

My great grandfather's sister Jean had two daughters, Edith and Margaret Swanson, and in 1940 both were teachers at the Strathcona Academy at 520 (Côte) Ste Catherine Road in Outremont, Montreal.  Today this building, built in 1898, is home to the Department of Geography of the University of Montreal.

When WWII started more teachers were needed and the traits they were looking for changed - now not only were they to teach, but to be a role model for latch-key kids, who had absentee fathers and mothers who worked all day. The salary for a teacher depended on whether it was a male or female, and if they held a degree or not. Some "most successful" teachers received bonuses.

average teacher salaries 1899 -1900

There are a few people of Quebec mentioned (in passing) as being schoolmasters in the judicial records at BANQ... go to the Pistard section and search "maître ecole".  (You can open in Chrome or use a translator for English). These are court records.

Take a look through the publications "The Education Record for the Province of Quebec", some list teachers: Vol 16 has list of students that received diplomas (page 359), the 1916 volume has a list at the end of "Superior Schools" and their teachers, following appointments to school commissioner (page 323), teacher bonuses and prizes (check each district report), members of the Provincial Association of Teachers (page 34 - 68), plus good information throughout.

Also look to school yearbooks for names and photos of teachers. Following are other materials I have found that give lists of teachers.

Relevant links

Educational Record of the Province of Quebec 1916

Educational Record of the Province of Quebec Vol 16 - 1896

Names and addresses of school teachers of the county of Middlesex, Ont 1899

Westborough Teachers Association (Mass) seniority list 1982-1983 (tenure teachers only)

List of teachers in school districts nos 9 and 10, Sutton, Mass from 1790 to 1897

List of high school teachers, city and county superintendents of Missouri, 1914-1915

Superintendents, teachers and principal officers of Ackworth School, UK 1779 - 1894

Candidates eligible for appointments as teachers - Boston

A handbook showing the names, positions, residences and salaries of the officers, professors & teachers under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education, together with the location of the colleges and schools - New York 1876

Annual School Directory 1909-1910: public schools of Munroe County, NY

History of the "Old High School" on School Street, Springfield, Mass 1828 - 1840; with a personal history of the teachers

Allen County, Indiana school directory - c 1897-1920

The Teachers List - complete alphabetic directory - UK 1872

A Portrait of Retired Black Teachers; a legacy of Nova Scotia's Black History.

Schools and Teachers in the Province of Ontario

Schoolmasters of New France

Ontario Teachers: at Olive Tree Genealogy

Return of Elementary Schools Supported by the Government 1880, Australia Teachers

Monday, 2 February 2015

Civil Servants

Canada Civil List

My great grandfather's brother William, a clerk in Kingston Ontario, applied for and was appointed to the Department of Indian Affairs. William and his wife Louisa had 2 children, but sadly both died in infancy. I can imagine that Louisa wanted to move away from a place of heartache, so they contacted her brother Henry who was on the Privy Council, and he got William the government job. They moved to Ottawa and William started March 18, 1893 as a messenger at Indian Affairs making $300 a year, and worked his way up to a clerk making $450 a year. How did I get all this information?  From the Civil Service List of Canada.

A Civil Servant is a "person who works in the public sector for a government department or agency." These include, but are not limited to, public printing and stationery, geological surveyors, prison guards, police, militia, customs officers, postal workers, railways and canals workers, etc....

Australia Civil List 1920

These lists are great, because information you find here will include name, salary, date of birth, and date of appointment. To make it a little easier for you, there is an index of names at the back.

Do you have an ancestor listed among these pages?

Relevant Links:

The Civil Service List of Canada

Return of the names and salaries, &c. of the civil service employees appointed and promoted during the year ended 31st December, 1883

The Massachusetts civil list for the colonial periods 1630-1774

The New York civil list 1889

Civil List of the Province of New-York 1693

Indian Civil Service List for 1880 - India

Quarterly Civil Service List for Punjab; corrected, 1898

Bombay Civil List - 1877

List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service  Australia 1920 + 1922

Official Register of the United States - 1883

Official Register of the United States - all

Le Livre Rouge : or, a new and extraordinary Red-book, containing a list of the (Civil Service) pensions in England, Scotland and Ireland – 1810

Related Posts:  Sessional Papers

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